'Dark Day': Detroit Police captain dead due to coronavirus, second DPD member to die

The Detroit Police Department said a second member of its force has died in connection to the coronavirus.

Capt. Jonathan Parnell, a veteran of the police department for 31 years and led the homicide department died late Tuesday.

"Everyone loved him," said Chief James Craig, who spoke Wednesday about losing Parnell. "I know we talk a lot about people serving with distinction. Really - he did serve with distinction."

Craig said prior to Parnell taking the test to be promoted to lieutenant, several of his coworkers pleaded with the chief to not promote him because of how much they respected and appreciated the officer's work.

"He was a true leader, never a complainer. Just one to make sure his men and women were putting forth the very best," said Craig.

Chief Craig said there are a total of 18 Detroit Police Officers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Mayor Mike Duggan said only one was hospitalized at the moment. As of Wednesday afternoon, 331 sworn officers are currently quarantined for possibly coming in contact with someone with coronavirus. 

Duggan promised the city would touch base with everyone in the department possibly exposed to the virus every day to track their progress. 

It's the second member of the police force to die due to COVID-19 in as many days after a 38-year-old civilian 911 dispatch operator succumbed to the illness on Monday.

So far, nine Detroit Police officers have confirmed contracting the virus, warranting the self-isolation of almost 300 officers. Mayor Mike Duggan expected that almost half of them would be returning to work by the end of the week.

While most cases in Michigan are now the result of community transmission, the dispatch officer likely contracted the coronavirus while on vacation. He returned to work on March 16 before beginning to show symptoms and taking the next day off.

RELATED: Detroit Police 911 operator, 38, dead from coronavirus

He was admitted to the ICU on Saturday, March 21, later dying early this week.

"This is a reminder of why Gov. Whitmer's order was so important. It is not just elderly people who are dying of this disease," Duggan said. "Something about it, young individuals are severely affected as well."

Craig said the department is updating its procedures in an effort to slow the spread of the virus and prevent more officers from contracting it.